SARASOTA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With today's opening of its new $6.1 million healing facility and 2.2 acres of landscaped gardens constructed on five acres in north Sarasota County, the Wellness Community of Southwest Florida (TWC) is also changing its name to Cancer Support Community Florida Suncoast.
“Our beautifully designed ‘green’ building will be dedicated on October 19 with a new name on the door reflecting our ongoing mission,” said Carl Ritter, CEO of the Sarasota organization. “Thanks to the generous donors to our Building Hope campaign, we will be able to provide free support for up to 11,000 cancer patients and their families annually in the finest healing environment anywhere – a facility that improves quality of life and may enhance recovery as well,” Ritter said.
The Cancer Support Community’s new 11,142-square-foot building on a five-acre site just east of Interstate 75 in Lakewood Ranch is designed to be an optimal healing environment, combining healthful materials, art, design and nature in a “green” facility to support people whose immune systems often have been compromised.
“We have learned that place matters a great deal when providing our special programs for anyone affected by cancer," said Jay Lockaby, senior vice president of affiliate relations and strategic growth for the Cancer Support Community Headquarters, a nationwide network created by the recent merger of The Wellness Community with Gilda’s Clubs Worldwide. The state-of-the-art facility was designed by Carlson Studio Architecture in conjunction with Ringling College of Art and Design. The building is pre-certified for Gold Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Blending indoor/outdoor elements into a natural setting, the center features:
• A studio for exercise and meditation
• A teaching kitchen and a library
• An “Ask the Doctor” living room for educational programs
• An expressive arts studio for children’s therapy
• Gallery spaces for patients, family members and artists
• An Internet café to learn and share information
• Healing gardens for horticultural therapy, reflection and Tai Chi
• A labyrinth garden
• Technology to support remote programs and podcasts
“Our referring physicians agree that effective treatment includes therapy and support outside the hospital and doctor’s office,” said Lockaby. “As the little non-profit that could, our goal is to create an atmosphere of physical and emotional comfort and to share our model with people around the world.”
The new building incorporates feedback from cancer survivors and families, as well as physicians and design experts. For instance, a children's Expressive Arts Therapy room was added for children to face their cancer issues. “We learned this from a single mother with three kids who said she wanted to come to visit us more often, but needed a place for her children,” Lockaby said.
The facility was financed through philanthropic donations and grants. “Our community should take great pride in this model facility and in the extraordinary generosity of local donors and foundations during a very difficult period,” said Alfred Rose, campaign chair.
Cancer Support Community Florida Suncoast provides hope, education and support to people affected by cancer, and all of its programs are provided free of charge. Through participation in support groups, informational workshops and mind/body classes, people affected by cancer learn vital skills that improve the quality of their lives and make them better partners with their medical professionals. Since 1996, more than 11,000 individuals have made more than 60,000 visits to the center in Sarasota and at satellite locations throughout the area.
For more information on programs and services: www.wellness-swfl.org.